On the spur of the moment - and at very short notice - I decided to accept an invitation to go to Bangkok and visit a small tournament... except that it wasn't in Bangkok and it was a FIDE Rated Rapid tournament.
Being picked up at the airport and then driving for four hours two provinces away to Nakhon Sawan was not what I was expecting (as pleasant as the company and journey was!) and along the way I realised I was going to have the privilege and honour of attending the inaugural Thailand Open Rapid Chess Championship.
My report for Chessdom - do see: http://www.chessdom.com/1st-thailand-open-rapid-chess-championship-2015/ - mostly says it all (I was impressed) but in case you don't wishy to click on the link and read on, let me share this photo of the playing hall above.
Really superb conditions for the players! The media was first rate too with games video taped and displayed on screens. Hospitality? It's Thailand! So of course there were analysis and rest areas, official hospitality services and all day long operating refreshment stands.
And just look at this! Kittiratt Na-Ranong was just over a year ago Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister but as President of the Thailand Chess Association he is not just present but fully engaged at every event they organise and here is just one example where he sits down with parents and not only gives personal encouragement and shares the benefits of the game but he taught them the moves and soon after got a parents competition going!
It was really a pleasure to be part of all this! (Of course the great Thai food and my many friends there certainly helped as did the blue sky's and fresh air!)